Gingernuts – Trans-Tasman Group 1 Glory
19 Mar 2017
He has done it here and now he has done it there.
Gingernuts (3 g Iffraaj – Double Elle, by Generous), last start winner of the $1m Vodafone New Zealand Derby (Gr. 1, 2400m), defied heavy track conditions and the best staying three-year-olds in Australia to win the $600,000 Sky Racing Rosehill Guineas (Gr. 1, 2000m) on 18 March at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney.
In a display of sheer courage, Gingernuts ploughed through the rain, with the Te Akau tangerine colours standing out in the gloom, to continue what must be considered the most meteoric rise of any racehorse in recent times throughout Australasia.
From winning at a lowly Monday meeting on 30 January at Te Teko, the day his purchaser, Te Akau principal David Ellis, began his $4.5m spend on 30 horses at the New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sales at Karaka, Gingernuts has climbed a mountain in three starts that have earned owners in the Te Akau Gingernuts Syndicate over $1m in prize money.
Ellis purchased Gingernuts for $42,500 at the 2015 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale, from the draft of Goodwood Stud, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Nobody doubted his ability to prove competitive on Australian soil, least of all the Ozzie punters who tightened him up to start a $5.50 & $2.00 second favourite on tab.com.au, and rider Opie Bosson did the rest.
Slowest from the gates, but not nearly as badly as when missing the start by four lengths before his stunning Avondale Guineas (Gr. 2, 2100m) win, two starts ago at Ellerslie, Gingernuts recovered to be tenth of the twelve runners at the 1400 metres. From amongst the rearguard, Bosson improved Gingernuts wide on the track from the 800m, stood the leader seven lengths at the 600m, before sweeping into contention on straightening at the 400m and after taking charge a furlong out he gapped his opposition to win easily.
Gingernuts scored by 2 ¼ lengths, running the 2000 metres in 2:11.4, last 600m in 39.4, on Heavy10 going.
“It’s just incredible and I think we all saw in the New Zealand Derby that he is just as good a horse on a good track,” said David Ellis, who shortly after the race had received over one-hundred and fifty congratulatory text messages.
“It’s so nice to hear from all those people and I think that everyone is so excited that New Zealand has won another big race in Australia, on the biggest day’s racing of the year in Sydney (Golden Slipper Day). A day with five Group Ones and we’re so proud that the tangerine colours were represented on such an occasion.
“I think he is a very exciting horse that could go on to the (Australian) Derby, carry on in the spring to the Caulfield Cup, and with his breeding on the dam side, who knows, he could be our first runner in the Melbourne Cup since Distinctly Secret finished seventh to Makybe Diva in 2003.
“That’s the first Group One win those (tangerine) colours have had in Sydney since 1992, when Te Akau Nick won the Metropolitan Handicap. We’ve won other top races there, including the St Leger, Chairman’s Handicap, finished second in the Ranvet Stakes, second in the BMW, and we’ve had a lot of minor places. But it’s not easy to beat the best at Group One level on Australian soil, so it all adds to the enormity of what Gingernuts has achieved for New Zealand.
“Steve (Autridge) and Jamie (Richards) have done an absolutely wonderful job with this horse. Every time they take him to the races he’s just spot on, and once again it was another first-class ride by Opie (Bosson).”
Bosson won the Australian Derby two years ago, and no stranger to winning at the highest level in Australia, having collected a Futurity Stakes and Caulfield Cup in recent trips.
“They’re an enthusiastic bunch,” said Bosson, referring to the Gingernuts Syndicate.
“It was a huge win. He jumped a bit slow and got a bit of a squeeze, but got in to a nice rhythm throughout the race and cruised around them turning for home. I knew I had a fit horse underneath me.
“He had his ears pricked the whole way up the straight. He was gawking around and I was just trying to keep his mind on the job.
“It was an ideal run (for the Derby), as long as this heavy track hasn’t taken too much out of him.”
Gingernuts became the fifth New Zealand bred and/or trained galloper to win the Rosehill Guineas in as many years, joining Tarzino (Tavistock), Volkstok’n’barrell (Tavistock), Criterion (Sebring), and It’s A Dundeel (High Chaparral), respectively, the latter two backing up to win the Australian Derby.
And Gingernuts now has his sights firmly set on becoming the third horse to repeat the dose in recent times, when he contests the $2m Australian Derby (Gr. 1, 2400m) on 1 April at Royal Randwick, a race in which New Zealand trained horses have won three of the last four.
Gingernuts was immediately shortened by bookmakers to $4.60 favourite for the Australian Derby.
“We’ll see how he pulls up and if the trainers are happy with him then we’ll definitely pay the late nomination fee for the Australian Derby,” Ellis said.
Ellis also commented on the rapid rise by talented young horseman Jamie Richards.
“It’s the young guy’s first Group One win in Australia, and it’s a big occasion,” he said.
“There are a lot of trainers that train horses for a life time and never win a Group One. I think that’s his seventh Group One winner and he’s only been training for twenty months. It’s unbelievable and just shows how well the partnership of he and Steve is working and what a wonderful team behind the scenes that Te Akau is so fortunate to have.
“I know how excited all the staff get, because they text me and say how proud they are to be working at Te Akau. It gives Karyn (Fenton-Ellis) and I such a thrill that they feel a real part of everything and it’s terrific to see it all work out so well.”
“It’s huge, isn’t it?” said Richards, referring to the recent exploits by Gingernuts. “It’s a great effort.
“It’s been a long day, waiting for this, watching Winx and everything like that, so I’m really pleased for the team at home and it’s great for the (NZ) industry when horses like this can step up and it looks like he’s going to be hard to beat in two weeks time.
“His last gallop, at home in Matamata, was a track similar to this and he got through it really well, although, obviously, race pressure is a lot different, but he seems to go in anything, and since we’ve stepped him to 2000 metres he’s really come right.
“It’s a huge buzz, and great to be a part of it,” he added.
A Waikato Farmer of the Year, in his own right, David Ellis has dedicated thirty-five years to buying and syndicating thoroughbreds, and backed by a loyal client base and formidable staff, all horses are given a chance of realising their potential.
In recent times, Te Akau has enjoyed an incredible amount of success on the race track, both in New Zealand, and their stable in Singapore, under the guise of Mark Walker, and much of that has to do with the time, effort, and experience that goes in to selecting young horses in the first place.
Gingernuts has led the way with wins in the Avondale Guineas (Gr. 2, 2100m), New Zealand Derby (Gr. 1, 2400m), and Rosehill Guineas (Gr. 1, 2000m). Splurge (Savabeel) won the Darley Plate (Gr. 3, 1200m). Gold Fever (Savabeel) the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m), Melody Belle (Commands) the Karaka Million (Restricted Listed, 1200m), and Hall of Fame (Savabeel) won the Levin Classic (Gr. 1, 1600m).
Additional group one wins for Richards include: Xtravagant (Pentire), twice, Risque (Darci Brahma), and Heroic Valour (Fastnet Rock), while co-trainer Stephen Autridge has a raft of Group One wins in his CV, Gingernuts became only his second in Australia.
His first was Crystal Palace (Palace Music) who won the Queensland Oaks (Gr. 1, 2400m) in 1997, strapped by Mark Walker.
With regards to the form surrounding Gingernuts, Ellis pointed out that possibly not enough notice was taken of his performance to win at Te Teko, leading to him starting eighth favourite ($27) in the Avondale Guineas and a run of four wins in succession.
“I know it was a race at Te Teko, but that was a field that could easily have been at Ellerslie, during a twilight meeting, or midweek at Te Rapa. He beat some pretty handy horses and look what he’s done since,” Ellis said.
Ellis has spent $6m at yearling sales so far this year, buying 37 horses, to keep a burgeoning business in good heart for exciting times to come.
“Last week I bought a High Chaparral colt that I really liked at Karaka. The shares in him sold in two hours before we even had time to put him on our website – the interest this year in our yearlings is just massive,” said Ellis.
Gingernuts was strapped by Campbell Ashby.
“He (Gingernuts) had a mile and a half lead up under his belt and that’s what you needed today,” said Sky Racing Presenter Ron Dufficy, with regards the testing conditions.
“Good on Te Akau and David Ellis. They put a heap of money in to New Zealand racing and they deserve a big prize here.
“He was always the horse travelling back in the field and he was very, very good, and Kiwi’s reign here.”
Fellow Sky Presenter Greg Radley said: “The famous Kiwi colours, the Te Akau colours that we’ve seen a bit of in Australia. The Kiwi’s have come here and they’ve conquered. Can he go on and win the Derby? We will find out in a couple of weeks time.”
In keeping with the theme of reasonably priced horses winning glamour events, the next race on the programme at Rosehill, the $3.5m Golden Slipper (Gr. 1, 1200m), was won by She Will Reign (Manhattan Rain) who was bought for $20,000.